Giants-Dodgers rivalry enters new phase after LA wins title originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea
You know what they say in times like this, right? Don't cry because it's over, smile because you got to make jokes for 32 years.
That run ended Tuesday night when the Los Angeles Dodgers beat the Tampa Bay Rays to win their first World Series title since 1988 and alter the legacy of a group that has been dominating the regular season for nearly a decade but choking in October.
Oh, there still are witty comebacks and cracks to be made by Giants fans. Three is more than one, and the past images of Clayton Kershaw hanging his head in the dugout can always be texted to your Dodger-supporting friends in times of need, but it won't be the same. It can't be the same.
A few years ago, at the start of this run, the Giants were at Dodger Stadium hoping to keep the home team from clinching the NL West. They couldn't do it, and when the game ended, Dave Righetti stood on the top step of the visiting dugout and patiently waited until he got the attention of his counterparts in the visiting dugout. He tipped his cap before descending into the clubhouse, a classy gesture from a man who played and coached in the sport's two greatest rivalries.
It's OK to do the same thing now.
The Dodgers have been the best team in the division for eight years and the best in the NL for at least half that time, and they might have gotten to this point already had the Houston Astros played by the rules. There are a lot of deserving champions in that dugout, starting with the manager, Dave Roberts, a former Giant and close friend of both the past and current administrations at Oracle Park. Roberts has taken all the arrows through the failures, something he perhaps learned from watching Bruce Bochy do the same in lean times, but when he had to in this series, Roberts pushed the right buttons.
You might know Justin Turner as a terror at the plate who has made Giants pitchers miserable during a late-career breakout. But many in Los Angeles know him as a man who spent his free months this summer supporting hard-hit local restaurants and serving tens of thousands of meals to those in need, along with doctors and nurses at the Children's Hospital of Los Angeles. He's a veteran who has more than earned a moment like this, which brings us to the player at the center of all those memes.
Kershaw is the best pitcher of his generation, but also a man who is tireless with his charitable work in the offseason and celebrates big wins by bringing his two young kids to press conferences. He has worn Dodger Blue his whole career, but you still should feel good for him, in large part because of what he has meant to this rivalry.
Years from now, when you think of this era of Giants baseball, you won't remember all the times the Giants faced Patrick Corbin or German Marquez. But you will remember the dozens of times that Clayton Kershaw was written on the opposing lineup card and Bochy sent out a Bomb Squad, hoping for what felt like a miracle. Perhaps you'll remember the time Brett Pill took Kershaw deep, or the "Are you kidding me?" look on the left-hander's face when Ehire Adrianza did the same.
You'll certainly remember that Madison Bumgarner got the best of his friend not once, but twice, forcing a smile from the Dodgers ace. And you'll never forget that on Bumgarner's final day in orange and black, Kershaw called his young catcher out to the mound so Bumgarner could soak in a standing ovation, then threw seven straight fastballs, giving him every opportunity to provide one last memory for a sellout crowd that never sat down.
It was easy for Giants fans to celebrate Kershaw's failures every October, but he deserved to leave the game with a ring, and the Dodgers finally got there in large part because Kershaw has looked this October very much like the ace who has toyed with the Giants for more than a decade.
The rivalry was kept alive by those matchups, but now it will enter a different phase. There's no matching three-in-five, but there's also no denying that this eight-year run in Los Angeles has been remarkable, and there are no signs of it slowing down. What's so fascinating now is that the Giants can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel, with a farm system that might allow them a chance to try and end this Dodgers run in a few years.
They're not far from countering Walker Buehler and Dustin May with Marco Luciano, Joey Bart, Heliot Ramos and Hunter Bishop. They hope to soon let Seth Corry and Sean Hjelle take their first cracks at Mookie Betts and Cody Bellinger.
There's one more reason for hope on this rough day in the offices at Third and King, where team employees quietly toasted every Dodgers collapse in recent years. The man who will try and close the gap, Farhan Zaidi, has his fingerprints all over the Dodgers roster that finally brought a title back to Los Angeles.